Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Birth of Henry, again.

You might be thinking, isn't it a little late to be sharing a birth story, 8 months after it took place?  I shared a quick version of the story shortly after Henry was born, but I wanted to share this version that is going on our birth center's website.

Henry Vincent was born on March 31, 2011 at 9:49 on a snowy, sunny morning.  I was four days past my due date and had been feeling as though I was to be pregnant for the rest of my life.  My sisters had delivered their babies before their due dates, and my cervix was very ready to go so we thought I would follow the pattern and deliver early as well.  I knew that it was more common to be "overdue" as a first timer, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated to not be in labor yet.  I was so excited to experience it, and to meet our little boy.  I had been checked a few times and the day before going into labor I was 5cm dilated and almost completely effaced.  I asked myself why I wasn't in labor when my body was so ready to do it. I had been having cramps and mild contractions on and off for days, even weeks, some were even predictable the days leading up to labor, but they always disappeared.  My family was in town and I was feeling the pressure to get the show on the road. For whatever reason, Henry just wasn't quite ready, and I tried hard to trust his timing.  I knew things would be smoother if I let him come when he was ready to.  So all I did for those days was walk, and bounce. Over and over again, just to feel like I was getting somewhere. I was so insanely swollen and I didn't want to be pregnant another moment, but looking back I'm glad I had a few extra days to enjoy that feeling inside, of a squirmy baby I would soon meet.
The morning of the 30th, I went in for a visit with Barbara, she thought she'd be seeing me back at the birth center before long.  She suggested I keep my arms folded over my belly to encourage Henry to move lower, so that is what I did--all day long.  I wanted my family to see some of Alaska, so we took a drive along the shore to look at the snow capped mountains, not going to far just in case I were to go into labor. We strolled around town and all the while in my head I was noticing that the mild contractions were 6 minutes apart.  My Mom kept looking at me wondering if something was happening because she knew I was timing, but I didn't say much about them, because I figured they were like all of the other contractions and would be gone by the time I went to bed that night. They weren't uncomfortable, or changing, or any different than the ones I had been having the previous weeks, except that they were a bit more frequent.
That night I had trouble sleeping.  I was feeling restless, like I needed to go to the bathroom but never got the feeling that I could actually empty my bladder. I got up over and over, finally falling asleep at 1:30 in the morning. At 4:23, I leaped from the bed clutching my rock hard belly with an "ow!" I stood there a little surprised, then got back in bed, only to shoot from it once more with another strong contraction.  I went to the bathroom and my legs were a little shaky, but still I wondered if this was actually it.  I woke up my husband Eric, and he wanted to call Barbara right away, as she'd be the one to meet us at the birth center.  I asked him not to call yet, even though contractions were strong at four minutes apart.  I hopped in the shower and moaned through them as they picked up to every two minutes. He called her and since I was due for antibiotics and she didn't think it would be a very long labor, she asked us to meet her at the birth center right away.  I had hoped to stay at home as long as possible, but the birth center feels like home anyway, so I was fine with the plan.  Things were moving quickly.  I whispered to Eric that I was nervous as he helped me to get dressed, but mostly I was so anxious to see what would come next. At the birth center (5:15am) I got in bed to have my antibiotics started, and Barb checked me-- I was 8 cm and shocked.  Such relief.  I sat on the toilet through a few contractions, texting my sisters and lighting candles, then moved to the bath.  Laura, Sarah and Felicity arrived, and I was feeling so supported.  Generally we don't have that many midwives and birth assistants at the births, but I had asked that they be there, and they all came which I am so greatful for.  I had hopes of a water birth, but my plan all along was to have no plan, to be flexible and do whatever was working the best.  The tub felt wonderful, taking away the weight of my swollen legs, and my contracting belly. Barb asked if I wanted her to break my water since all that needed to happen was Henry needed to come down a bit lower.  I said that would be fine, I didn't want much intervention but this was a step that was helpful, and it was my choice so I was very comfortable with it. I moved to the shower and labored on my knees, arms wrapped over an exercise ball while Eric sat next to me spraying my back with the hot water. I was grunting at the very peaks of the contractions feeling slightly pushy, though only Eric could hear it.  We moved to the bed and though I wasn't entirely complete, Barb and Laura said I could give a few pushes to see how it went.  He was moving down with them and I was quickly completely dilated.  As I started to push, I slipped into a completely different place in my mind and body. I was no longer feeling pain with the contractions, but just an incredible (and uncomfortable) urge to push. In between, I was almost asleep.  Everyone was quiet for the most part, my eyes were closed, I was relaxed.  I think I joked around a bit in between, about not wanting anyone to touch my water bottle but those details are a bit hard to remember.  The pushes though, were intense, and I was loud during them. Instinctual.  The feeling as he got lower was more painful than the contractions themselves.   I had no concept of time during that stage, but I know that about 30 minutes after they said I was complete, they placed Henry on my belly. It was amazing.  Everything felt so right, so very calm.  We were not separated once, Henry and I. Sarah (birth assistant, friend, lactation consultant) helped us to breastfeed and Henry and I slipped into a bath with herbs to relax afterwards. A very tired mama, and a very relaxed baby.

I've been asked many times if it was strange giving birth with my bosses and coworkers, but it was so far the opposite. I was encouraged to just enjoy it like the patient that I was, not the birth assistant that I was used to being.  It was definitely interesting to be on the other side of it, and I loved it. The whole experience. Everyone was surrounding me with support but giving Eric the space to be my main support person.  It was a perfect day for us both.  3 hours after he was born, the three of us headed home to nap in our own bed. I left with such a sense of relief, that it was over, but a little sad for the same reason because it was such a special, experience.  I have never been so proud in my life.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this story and especially the pictures. I would have given anything to have been around you during this wonderful time but the pictures made me feel like I was there. You can just tell how very special a time that was. Again thank you for sharing such a wonderful intimate time in your life!!

  2. Wow! Such an amazing story! And thank you for sharing it! My fiance and I really want to have a natural birth, preferably in a bath. What an amazing experience!

  3. That's wonderful Bailey! I just cannot say enough good things about the experience, I'm excited for you!


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